By Michael Rebell
The Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) released a report December 2016 that argues that the legislature could fully implement New York State’s foundation formula to provide full funding for high need districts with only a total increase of $569 million in state funding, in contrast to the almost $4 billion that many advocates are calling for to fully fund the state’s foundation formula. The foundation formula was adopted by the state in 2007 in the wake of the CFE decisions, but has not been fully funded by the state since the 2008 recession.
The foundation formula largely adhered to the Court of Appeals’ directive that state education funding must be responsive to student need; it provided substantial increases for students in New York City and other high need districts throughout the state. At the same time, however, according to the CBC, the formula included a number of hold harmless provisions, arbitrary floors, ceilings, phase-ins and add-ons that distort final funding distributions. In addition, inconsistent local share calculations do not uniformly and fairly account for a district’s ability to pay, and outdated measures of poverty understate or overstate need in many districts. It is by eliminating these aspects of the formula that inequitably benefit low wealth districts that full funding could be provided to high need districts at a relatively modest additional cost to the state, according to the CBC.
A copy of the full CBC report can be found at http://www.cbcny.org/sites/default/files/REPORT_FOUNDATIONAID_12122016.pdf.